Additional Resources for Your Consideration

This is an update of an analysis on take-up in educational choice programs published in Education Next.

In the earlier Education Next analysis, we looked at programs that were introduced in 2010 or later and that were in operation for at least 5 years (27 programs in 19 states).

The data below reflect all programs that were in operation from 1990 to 2021 which consists of 47 programs (5 ESA, 23 voucher, and 19 tax-credit scholarship programs) in the analysis. The ESA programs in the sample are all special needs programs. Prior to its recent expansion, more than half of ESA students in Arizona’s ESA program had special needs. We treat Arizona’s ESA program as a special needs program as the analysis is through 2021.

(Last updated February 2, 2023.)

A common concern of educational choice programs relates to the challenges that district schools face in responding to changes in funding associated with changes in student enrollment. Fortunately, there are numerous resources for school officials to help them manage their budgets. Here are a few:

Student-centered funding, student-based budgeting, backpack funding, … a concept known by many names, it is the idea of directly funding students and families, so every dollar follows each student to the educational setting of their parents’ choosing.

A growing share of public K-12 expenditures is retirement benefits for teachers and other public K-12 workers. These rising costs, stemming from rising unfunded liabilities, are threatening to crowd out resources that could be used more directly for students’ education.

  • Robert Costrell, an economist at the University of Arkansas, has been tracking the costs of retirement benefits for public school employees.
    • Employer costs per-pupil (adjusted for inflation) have nearly tripled between March 2004 and September 2020. Retirement costs represent an increasing share of K-12 expenditures (currently 11.3 percent of per-pupil expenditures).
    • The cost gap for retirement benefits between public school teachers and comparable workers in the private-sector has also increased dramatically, where the public sector cost is now more than twice that for the private sector.